Jake Suillivan: US troop withdrawal
Jake Sullivan, US President-elect Joe Biden's choice to be his national security adviser

Biden administration takes “hard look” at US-Taliban deal

The Biden administration is “taking a hard look” at how the Taliban are honouring the February peace deal signed between the US and the Taliban.

Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Adviser, said on Friday that the Taliban must engage in a real negotiations with the Afghan government.

“What we’re doing right now, is taking a hard look at the extent to which the Taliban are in fact complying with those three conditions, and in that context, we make decisions about our force posture and our diplomatic strategy going forward,” Sullivan told Aljazeera English.

Mr. Sullivan elaborated that according to February pact signed between the US and the Taliban, the group has to cut ties with “terrorist” groups, engage in a “meaningful” negotiations with the Afghan government and support a ceasefire.

A surge in violence intensified after the US and the Taliban signed a peace deal late in February 2020. As many as 14 Afghan soldiers lost their lives in a Taliban-claimed car bomb in Nangarhar province today, Saturday, January 30.

On January 17, unknown gunmen shot dead two female judges in Kabul. Though the Taliban deny involvement in latest wave of targeted killings, Afghan security and intelligence agencies blame the Taliban for surge of violence in urban centers including Kabul. Over last couple of months of at least 12 people, including journalists, women rights activists, government employees and NGO workers, have been shot dead in targeted killings which went unclaimed.

The slow-moving Afghan peace process has raised skepticism whether the process can put an end to conflict in the country. Some independent observers believe that in the February deal, the Trump administration gave more concession to the Taliban group, something, as they say, has made the group over-confident. As was agreed between the US and Taliban in the February agreement, the United States has agreed to pull out American and NATO troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 in return for counter-terrorism guarantees by the Taliban. The Taliban have agreed to engage in a power-sharing talks with the Afghan government and reduce violence.

The remarks by US National Security Advisor comes while earlier the Pentagon had said that it was very hard to see a way forward with the agreement without the Taliban meeting its commitments.

“Without them meeting their commitments to renounce terrorism and to stop the violent attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces … it is very hard to see a specific way forward for the negotiated settlement, but we’re still committed to that,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday, January, 28.